A greater proportion of students was in hot pursuit of job-oriented technical education while the share of those seeking plain-vanilla graduation degrees declined sharply in the decade to 2011, latest census data show, though the trend did not result in a commensurate rise in employability.
The share of non-technical graduate degree holders among total graduates declined by about nine percentage points (69% to 60%, rounded off) while that of students with technical degrees and diplomas rose by 9.5 percentage points (30% to 39.5%) the census data on education released on Friday show.
The total number of graduates in the country rose from 38.9 million in 2001 to 68.2 million in 2011, whereas the number of technical graduates increased from 12 million to 27 million.
The low employability of technical graduates still remains a concern even as the country sits poised to reap the benefits of a demographic dividend resulting from a largely young population set to enter the workforce.
“Only 10-15% employable graduates in business services and 26% employable engineers in technology services continue to be a major bottleneck,” a Nasscom study for 2020 said.
The census data show students from Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe categories also benefited from the changing mix as their share in technical education courses was higher than the national average.
While the total number of technical education degree holders increased by 4.4%, the rise for SC and ST students was 5.3% and 5.1%, respectively.
The question that remains unanswered is whether they also got a greater share in jobs as there is no employment data on social backwardness.
Another takeaway from the data is the overall improvement in education levels of the SC and ST population. Education levels for middle, higher secondary and above for SCs and STs went up during 2001-2011 compared to the previous decade. However, for others there was a negligible decline in case of matric and secondary education.
The percentage share of graduates in the population of those aged 15 years and above improved from 5.7% to 8.2% overall, 2.2% to 4.1% for SCs and 1.5% to 2.6% for STs during the decade.
If the data are broken down into graduate and postgraduate (other than technical), the percentage of postgraduates showed a rise of 2.9% while the increase for SC and ST postgraduates was slightly lower than the national average.
On literacy, the data show about 366 million Indians had studied till primary level as of 2011. Around 447 million people in the country were illiterate.